By Peter Canellos, Globe Staff
Pride has always been Michelle Obama's currency.
Her towering presence and affirming tone made her a hero to many African-American women. But her comments in Wisconsin last February about having been proud of her country for the first time in her adult life marked her to some conservatives as a practitioner of "the politics of grievance."
So her goal in last night's speech at the Democratic National Convention was to soften her image while maintaining her authentic voice.
Most signs were that she did. By focusing on her role as wife and mother, she avoided the pitfalls of Teresa Heinz Kerry, who gave an inspiring speech but failed to connect it to her husband.
Donald Kettl, political scientist and director of the Fox Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania, said, "Michelle Obama's speech reflected great nobility. She presented herself as a loving wife and mom, and she presented herself as being in sync with the values of most Americans."
"She surely would be a very different kind of first lady, but she took a lot of the air out of the elitist charges that the Republicans had been making," he added. "The big challenge remains whether Obama can reach middle- and working-class Americans, but Michelle Obama's speech significantly helped the cause."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.